Virginians Will Dance or Die!

The Importance of Music in Pre-Revolutionary Williamsburg


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About the Book

Music was everywhere in pre–Revolutionary Williamsburg, Virginia. In 1771, plantation owner Landon Carter noted in his diary that he could hear instruments through the windows of every house in town. In taverns and private homes, at formal performances and dances and casually around the campfire, music filled the daily lives of the people of Williamsburg.
While the average citizen enjoyed music during public events, the city’s elite, emulating their British counterparts, spent lavishly on instruments, sheet music and private lessons and held private concerts and dances. Williamsburg’s theater, the first of its kind in America, provided a venue for all Virginians and brought numerous musical acts to the stage. Drawing on contemporary newspaper accounts, this book is the first to explore how some 18th–century Williamsburg citizens experienced the growing musical world around them.

About the Author(s)

Joshua R. LeHuray is an educator at the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Virginia, co-director of the Janesville Fife and Drum Corps from Janesville, Wisconsin and an adjunct history professor at Rappahannock Community College in Virginia. He lives in Richmond.

Bibliographic Details

Joshua R. LeHuray
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 196
Bibliographic Info: 16 photos & illustrations, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6284-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2409-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v

Preface 1

Introduction 4

1. The Progression of Williamsburg’s Musical Marketplace 7

2. Virginians Will Dance or Die! 40

3. Casual Music and Common Folk 71

4. The Vibrant Stage of Williamsburg’s Colonial Theaters 99

Epilogue 130

Appendix I: Music Master Cuthbert Ogle’s Musical Estate 133

Appendix II: Concerts and Dances of Williamsburg 135

Appendix III: Slaves and Servants Valued for Their Music or Dancing Skills 144

Appendix IV: Plays and Performances at the Williamsburg Theatres 154

Appendix V: The Articles of Association, October 20, 1774 165

Chapter Notes 169

Bibliography 177

Index 183

Book Reviews & Awards

“this book is the first to explore how some 18th-century Williamsburg citizens experienced the growing musical world around them”—Chicago Tribune.